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Monthly Archives: August 2012

I took a little break from posting. I originally had a goal of a post a day to show all the productive and amazing things I do with or for my family – but I realized that by trying to do so much, then edit so much, then write so much, it was doing the opposite of what I was trying to do. Rather than documenting my family awesome-ness, I started missing out on my family (and my sleep).

So I’m now going to post at least once a week, but I’m not going to stress it. Instead, I’m going to get out, and do more things like this!

Family Day Trip: Independence Lake

You’ve probably never heard of it, even if you’re from here, but my avid hiker of a husband gave us the suggestion of Independence Lake for our mid-August day trip. And here it is in all of its unedited glory!

It is BEAUTIFUL. The blues and greens of the water set undisturbed with a backdrop of perfect, Northwestern scenery – mountains and trees as far as the eye could see.

Located just outside Verlot, WA, Independence Lake is set back a few miles up a gravel road, just past the Ice Caves.

The small roads trip gives amazing views of the mountains above you and the valleys below.

Hikers, campers, and day trippers wind their way carefully through the narrow road to their destinations along the way – Independence is the last stop available. At the end of the drive, the road ends in a slightly wider, almost cul-de-sac formed area.

You park on the side of the road and make your way to a not-well-marked (bet well-tended) path.

The hike is not the easiest, but it is relatively short. It is about 8/10ths of a mile with roots and rocks to concur, and a few steep inclines – but without having any true exercise in a year and lung troubles I did just fine. My 2-year-old did a good chunk of it on her own too, but I have a feeling she’ll be more athletic than her father and I combined.

The path may be rough at times, but the gorgeous surroundings are plenty to distract you. Brilliant trees, downed logs, and creeks to cross really bring the essence of Washington.

With every trip there are pros and cons. The cons to this trip, aside from no one with a plastic hip or pace maker trying the trek, is that it’s almost a wetland.

My husband didn’t really listen to me when I said I wanted to go “for a day hike and picnic”. To everyone else, that would mean a place to sit and eat, right?

Independence is practically a wetland. There are some camping spots on higher ground that’s dry, however the vegetation is so high that time of year, you wouldn’t be able to see the lake from where you sat down.

The ground is squishy, but solid. Though you can’t lay a blanket or a towel down to relax and read a book, it’s not bad enough that your boots get stuck while you walk. Everything is solid, just… wet.

There are plenty of downed logs that offer rest, though. Even with our two-year old it wasn’t too bad, and alone or just a few friends it’s really a non-issue.

The other con is the fly population. The little ones I don’t mind, but the Jeff Goldbloom sized monsters that basically look like hairy grey bees are where I almost threw in the towel. I had already said, “I won’t do this!” when right after a cooling and gentle breeze started.

As soon as that breeze hit, all the scary flies were gone. Some of the little ones still remained here and there, but the day was fantastic after that!

The lake is interesting. Rather than a rock or sand floor, the lake consists of 90% fallen trees and bark.

The water is glacier water, so it was cold, but we still kicked off our shoes and waded in the lake. Despite how it looks, the lake floor is soft to the feet with only the occasional hard new stick to manuever around.

There is also fishing to be had! My husband brought up his pole and, of course, my daughter had to assist.

After a few hours of lunch, fishing and exploring, we packed our day up and made the hike back. The hike out was close to equally rough as the hike in, maybe  little better, but check out the view:

The whole trip was worth it. The exercise got me back on the horse when it comes to hiking, the day gave my daughter something new to try, and the pictures are amazing!

Now it was time to drive through the relaxing forest lined country roads to the highway home. Thanks for reading!

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This is a recipe I’ve perfected myself. After trial and error-ing several fried chicken recipes, I combined the best parts of them all and turned them into poppers!

I usually pair these with my homemade french fries, which can be found in this previous entry. These are one of my favorite things to make – hopefully you’ll enjoy them too!

So good!

Ingredients:

2-3 chicken breasts ~ 2 eggs ~ milk ~ your favorite hot sauce ~ 1-2 cups flour ~ salt and pepper ~ garlic salt ~ vegetable oil for frying

Cut the chicken breast into small, bite sized pieces.

Now, get two bowls. In one bowl, whisk the eggs with a splash of milk. Then, take your favorite type of hot sauce and whisk it in with the eggs to taste. I do about 3-4 dollops since mine is thicker, which comes out to maybe half of a teaspoon.

In the second bowl, mix the salt, pepper and garlic salt to the flour. You’ll do this to taste as well, but my suggestion is to make the ratios generous in the seasoning. After frying, it tends to lose some of its potency. I do about 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt.

Toss chicken in the egg until it’s well coated.

Dredge the egged chicken through the flour mixture to coat.

Fill a frying pan with vegetable oil until it covers the bottom of the pan. Heat over medium heat.

Drop coated chicken in frying pan.

Fry until the bottom of the chicken crisps to a light brown. Flip.

Continue to flip until evenly golden on each side.

Use a fork to take each done piece out. Place the popper on a plate with two paper towels to drain.

And you’re all set for deliciousness! They’re so good, and they go so fast!

Enjoy =)


Ever go out with a girlfriend for a margarita and, even though you’ve already eaten, the smell of the place makes you starving? My method is a side of rice, smother it in red enchilada sauce, throw some melted cheese on top and watch me drool!

So I just decided to start making it at home.

Each can of enchilada sauce could feed an army this way, so I usually follow it up with some easy chicken enchiladas for dinner a few days later.

It’s simple, it’s cheap, it’s easy.

SO GOOD.

Ingredients:

1 Box mexican rice mix ~ 1 can enchilada sauce ~ small handful shredded mexican cheese

You heard me. That’s it.

First thing’s first. Prepare rice as directed on package.

Dish yourself up a good heaping bowlful.

Drench the rice in red, lovely deliciousness.

Sprinkle that enchilada goodness with a healthy dose of shredded cheese.

Microwave for 30 seconds to heat the sauce and melt the cheese.

Tada!

Sweet Moses it makes me hungry just looking at it.

I’ll probably have this for lunch tomorrow now.


I kept seeing some amazing wreaths on Pinterest and, the ones that really caught my eye, were ones that were basically just wrapped in yarn.

I thought to myself, “There has to be a trick, or else everyone would do this. It can’t be as easy as it seems.”

So, I went through one of my Pins. That website told me to go to a link.

That link gave me another link.

And that link.. you guessed it. Gave me another link.

This went on for far longer than I cared and gave me a complete dead-end. So, I did what I normally do in that situation. Gave up, said “I can figure this out”, and prepped myself for failure. But, lo and behold, it really is that simple! Here, I’ll prove it to you:

The entire thing probably cost me $6 and it was fun to do. I may even add more flowers or something to it later.

And you get it (hopefully) in just one click and avoid the run-around!

Supplies:

Styrofoam wreath (at least 12″ and can be found at most craft stores – the one shown is 12 inches and came out pretty small) ~ yarn in your choice of colors ~ scissors ~ decorative items (in this case I used fake flowers from the dollar store, and started to use cardboard and glitter for numbers… you’ll see)

I began by making a mental pattern of what I wanted the wreath to turn out like. In my head I wanted four solid blocks of colors, off centered, with flowers in the bottom corner.

Since I wanted all of my color blocks the same size, I just quartered the wreath using a ruler to help me eye-ball it straight. However you prefer your pattern, make notches in your Styrofoam now to help keep you on track later.

Take the starting color of yarn and tie it around the wreath. Knot it.

I also, since I didn’t know what I was doing, Modge Podged that area of the wreath. I was thinking that something had to hold it down other than just wrapping it. The beauty of the Styrofoam? It clings to the yarn and does all the work for you.

Unravel a long piece of yarn, depending on the width of color block you desire.

The amount of yarn I pulled out the first time made a ridiculously small color block. I preferred that, since I could just tie more on in addition rather than wasting it by pulling out too much. You’ll get the feel of it after the first time or two.

Wrap the yarn around the wreath, closely to the first loop made with the knot.

As you wrap, you’ll notice there is still a small section of white in between the strands of yarn. Back track and wrap a round over that white patch, essentially making two layers.

Whenever you run out of yarn, just tie a knot to combine the wrapped strand and the new longer strand so the knot stays in the back of the wreath.

Your color block will begin to look like this in the front:

Keep wrapping until you’ve found your notch to switch colors. Combine the colors using the same knot as before, combining the new color to the previous wrapped color.

Keep wrapping, using the same back-track-over-lap method as the first color until you hit your next notch.

Keep going until the yarn is completely wrapped. Mine turned out like this:

On to the decorating! I started out by making “12th Man” numbers, but after glued…

… And glittered…

They didn’t turn out as I’d hoped and were vetoed by my husband. So, I may spray paint some to add later, but for now I just used flowers.

They’re just bundles from my local dollar store. Since I was going toward the “Fall season” the bright colors I’d hoped for were phased out. This is as close as I could get, but! – the beauty of these wreaths is the flowers will be completely interchangeable if I needed them to be!

Cut the plastic cover around the flower stems, being careful to not cut the wire too much if you’re using regular scissors. Cutting the wire can damage your scissors. Learn from my mistakes.

Once you’ve cut the plastic, you can bend and rotate the flower until the wire is fragile. The flower should snap leaving the flower in two.

Insert your flower into the wreath where you desire. Just wedge it between the wrapped yarn and into the styrofoam.

That’s it. No glue, no sew, no hassle.

Arrange your flowers how you please.

If you have any other decorations you would like to add that could not be inserted into the wreath, I would suggest hot glue to secure the item to the yarn. Though it’s not my favorite method, it would be the most secure considering how much other glues are absorbed into the yarn. Mine, for the meantime at least, is finished!

Not too shabby!

I plan on making a Dallas Cowboys one for a fine Southern Gal I know next, and then the glitter will come out again, but I think anyone around here knows the these colors when they see them. Go Hawks!


Ok, I promise this isn’t a food blog. I just create with food far more often than anything else. I have lunches, dinners, and the occasional dessert to make which just adds up.

THIS is one of those desserts! So delicious – inspired by this amazing blog which I pretty much used in its entirety except I used a brownie baking mix instead of from scratch. Call me lazy, but I was in a hurry!

Here they are!

Ingredients:

Brownie Mix (Including ingredients required on package) ~ applesauce (per amount of oil required on package) ~ 2 – 8 ounce packages reduced fat cream cheese (softened) ~ 2/3 cup sugar ~ 2 large egg yolks ~ 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

First we’ll start with the brownies. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13 pan with tin foil. For easier removal later, I also greased mine – that is completely optional though.

The brownie package I worked with called for 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, and 2 eggs.

Whenever a baking recipe calls for oil, I substitute it with all natural applesauce. Not only does it make it healthier for you, it makes what you’re baking fluffier, more moist, and it stays fresher longer. Use an equal ratio of oil to applesauce. In my case, I used 1/2 cup per the recipe.

Follow the brownie mix recipe, substituting where desired, until batter is formed. Pour batter into the lined baking dish.

On to the cheesecake layer! Begin by separating your eggs. Have your large mixing bowl ready for the yolks, and a small one ready for the whites. Pass the yolk back and forth over the smaller bowl, using the egg shells to hold the yolk as the egg whites fall.

Combine all other cheesecake ingredients to the mixing bowl. Whisk until smooth.

Spread the cheesecake mixture over the brownie layer. Use a knife or a spatula to swirl the batters together.

Bake in the center rack of your oven for about 45 minutes. The edges will begin to puff and a knife in the center should come out clean.

Voila!

The below picture isn’t the best, but you’ll see how delicious they are for yourself. For better cooling, remove brownies by the tin foil and place on a cooling rack. Square them, and enjoy!


So, apparently, the name “Skordalia” is greek and fancy for “garlic lemon mashed potato dip”. This is a recipe I found in a “party food” cookbook. It doesn’t sound fancy, and it doesn’t even sound appetizing, but it was a surprising success! It’s a great dip with Wheat Thins Natural Veggie Flavored Crackers, and paired with fresh veggies and ranch it makes a great party snack!

Ingredients:

1 cup prepared mashed potatoes ~ 2 small garlic cloves ~ 3 tablespoons olive oil ~ 2 tablespoons lemon juice ~1/4 teaspoon salt

Prepare the mashed potatoes as directed on the box. I’m a fan of home-made mashed potatoes, but in the case where I have an exact amount to make, store-bought flakes are the way to go!

Dice garlic into small chunks, then mix with potatoes in a microwave safe bowl.

Cover with a paper towel and microwave for 1 minute. Stir.

Add the olive oil and stir gently, folding it into the potatoes and garlic. It should make it just a little fluffier.

Add salt and lemon juice, stirring gently once more. Do a taste test to see if you need to add more salt. Serve warm or at room temperature with crackers or pita chips.

Enjoy!


One of my favorite recipes I’ve created on my own. It lasts for days between my husband and I, and it’s so hearty all you need is one small slice to feel incredibly satisfied.

I’m all about individual foods being your seasonings rather than loading up the recipe with a bunch of herbs and spices. Though there is always a time and a place for them, and I have a full spice rack on hand, I love mincing garlic and getting a zesty sausage, and crushing fresh basil leaves to give my recipe the flavor it needs.

So, that being said, take the liberty with this recipe to add whatever ingredients you want. Don’t like bacon? Scrap it. Don’t like garlic? Don’t add  it, and throw in some herbs and spices you prefer. I created this recipe because it’s things I love nestled in eggs and a pie crust. I could not go wrong.

Ingredients

1 refrigerated pie crust ~ 1 pound country sausage ~ 3 strips of bacon ~ 1 small zucchini ~ 1/2 cup onion ~ 2 cloves garlic ~ 4 eggs ~ one cup milk ~ salt and pepper ~ 1/4 cup shredded cheese blend

Oh the deliciousness. Preheat your oven to 375. Place pie crust on counter to soften from being refrigerated.

Here’s a tip that I do – I buy a package of bacon, then freeze it in tinfoil in individual strips. Then, I pull off whatever I need and bake it in the oven. Even if your bacon is not frozen, oven baking the bacon frees up stove space and it can be done while your oven is preheating. Just watch it to make sure it doesn’t crisp too quickly, but it usually takes about 5-10 minutes while the oven is warming up.

If you choose to cook your bacon in the oven, place it on tin foil in the oven now.

Brown sausage in a fry pan on medium heat.

Chop, dice, and mince your zucchini, onion and garlic.

After the meat is browned and drained, add veggies to the pan. No need to sautee completely, this is just to heat them up and prepare them for baking.

Check your bacon.

By now, the pie crust should be thawed enough to unroll. If it hasn’t, I place mine in the middle of the stove top to use the heat from the oven to assist. Unroll the pie crust into a 9 inch pie plate.

Your bacon should be done by now, if not sooner. After draining the bacon on some paper towels, hand shred the bacon into small strips. Refrain from eating. Then spread a small layer on the bottom of the pie crust.

Next, evenly layer the sausage and veggie slurry over the bacon.

Sweet Moses I love this recipe.

Ok! Now in a bowl, whisk the eggs and milk with a fork. after combined, salt and pepper the eggs. This is mainly to taste, keeping in mind that the sausage will already be salty and zesty, so my rule of thumb is enough that when I stir it together I can still clearly see spots of pepper. Around 1/2-1 teaspoon of each.

Pour the egg mixture evenly in the pie crust. This is a hearty Quiche, so the meats and things will be sticking up over the egg. No need to fill to cover.

Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top of the Quiche.

Bake in a preheated oven for 30-45 minutes. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and edges of pie crust have browned.

Voila! Enjoy!